Happy Birthday, Pat Tillman

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Editor’s
note: Pat Tillman would have been 33 years old today. We at Truthdig
wish to commemorate his life by republishing an article by his brother,
Kevin Tillman. Tillman’s story speaks volumes not just about
those we have lost, but about a history of lies, deceits and cover-ups
that have helped to perpetuate war and kill thousands of U.S., coalition,
Iraqi and Afghan people. As we await a decision by President Barack
Obama, being pressed by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, on whether or not
to send more troops to Afghanistan, we can remind ourselves of the
life that Pat Tillman led and let it guide us to better understand
both the conflict in Afghanistan and its consequences.

Kevin Tillman
joined the Army with Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq
and Afghanistan. Pat was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan
on April 22, 2004. The government deceived his family – and
the nation – about the circumstances of his death for five
weeks. McChrystal, who led the Joint Special Operations Command,
of which Pat was a member, was central to the top-level military
deceit in Tillman’s death through his fast-tracking of a fraudulent
Silver Star medal recommendation and later warning in a high-priority
memo of possible “public embarrassment if the circumstances
of Corporal Tillman’s death become public.” Not when,
but “if.”

Kevin, who
was discharged in 2005, wrote a powerful, must-read document on
the occasion of Pat’s birthday anniversary in 2006.

It is Pat’s
birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets
me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined
the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers.
How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership
and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not
of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without
a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened
since we handed over our voice:

Somehow our
elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by
setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping
people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging
them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt
policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples”
in the military.

Somehow back
at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener
scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping
stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet.
It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour
should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker
on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet,
as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet
into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the
more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion
becomes.

Read
the rest of the article

November
9, 2009

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